Feb 28, 2010

My World and Welcome to It

What a week! It's been just like the rest of my life: so full of odd little instances that it seems like my entire life is full of odd little instances. So it's like one big odd instance that lasts a whole week.

We're getting ready to move back to the US, at least I am, and to prepare, we're doing things! Yes! We're doing things! Not exactly the kind of things you might imagine, though. Behold:

Last Sunday, O and I went to get groceries at the local supermarket. We got his favorite greek-style olives that come in a plastic box full of olives and juice. They are a local product, really, Peru has almost everything necessary to be self-sufficient in the way of produce and natural resources. Anyway, these olives were carefully placed into a bag and loaded from the shopping cart to the back seat of the car. Then we unloaded all th grocery bags from the car to the steps of the apartment building. I only have so many hands, so I usually drop my cell phone and wallet into a bag with dry goods, like bags of rice and boxes of cereal, so I can carry everything up. So I did that, but somehow the box of olives got turned on its side and all the juice leaked out in to the bag they were in. When I lifted that bag to the counter, it went all catty-wampus on me and all the juice that had left the olives splashed out...into the bag with my cell phone and wallet. Oddly, everything in the wallet was totally dry, which was probably due to the fact that my cell phone soaked up a lot of the liquid, and ended up fried. Argh. Cell phone sautéed by its own battery, in olive juice.

Later that night some lady called for O, and upon discovering that he wasn't at home, she asked for his cell number. I had to tell her that I didn't know what his number was, since it was saved to my cell, I never bothered to learn it - just hit the speed dial to call him. After finding out that I was his wife, she proceeded to tell me what a terrible wife I must be, if I didn't even know my own husband's cell phone number and what was I going to do about it, and did he know that I was so slovenly and uncaring that I didn't keep track of his phone number and she was certainly going to tell him about it.

I hung up on her.

Then we sold the car. O was thrilled that he'd driven a hard bargain and gotten his price, which was really pretty good for a 1997 Mitsubishi Chariot minivan that had been rear-ended at east once and honestly needed some serious repairs. We transferred the title over and collected our money and walked back to the house, which was the moment that reality set in. OMG, it was like losing a child! O has been in mourning for a week, but shows signs of adjusting to life on foot again, or at least life on city bus.

The next day, O hitched a ride to class with a friend who lives in Chorrillos, an hour away from our neighborhood. That was really nice of the guy, but O forgot his keys in the friend's car and didn't realize it till he got home...then had to take a taxi all the way to Chorrillos to retrieve the key. He didn't get back home till around midnight. And then he told me that his taxi driver was either drunk or really tired because he couldn't drive without roaming all over the road and he kept falling asleep at the stop lights. SCARY!

On Thursday, when I stepped out the door to go to work, the doorman told me that the water tank would be cleaned on Friday about 10 am, and that the water would be off for a few hours. What he REALLY meant was that the water would be off for a FEW DAYS. The water was turned off before I got home from work on Thursday, and stayed off till this morning. Thursday night, I walked to the closest store to buy some 2.5 liter bottles of water so we'd have drinking water and something to brush our teeth, knowing that the water would be on in the morning for showers and washing dishes and whatnot. On Friday, I returned to the store to buy some more water to scrub off with. On Saturday, I went to the store AGAIN to buy water and found it sold out of water. GAAUUGH! Saturday
was particularly hot in the classrooms and I was feeling particularly self-conscious and stinky as I walked between the desks during the exams. It was more like squishing and sloshing between the desks as I sweated along. After two days of bathing in a plastic water bottle, I was beginning to feel like I'd been in the trenches for far too long. In short, I reeked. I was thankful for the end of the work day so I could get home and take a shower. Surely the water would be on by the time I got home.


The worst of it was that not only did I stink, but I had quite a good crop of fruit flies buzzing in and around my sinkful of dirty dishes and a pile of laundry like I hadn't seen since having surgery last year. It was too much for me, so I grabbed the last bottle of water before O could, slammed the kitchen door shut before the flies could take over the rest of the house, and took refuge in the bathroom to scrape off the top layer of dried sweat and car exhaust. I did leave the last half of the bottle of water for O...he stunk worse than I did.

This morning, before daylight, I checked for water in the bathroom. EUREKA!! We had struck water again and I leapt in the shower. After that, I attacked the kitchen with a can of Raid and scared the daylights out of the flies that had taken up housekeeping in the sink, beneath the dirty dishes. I'm sure I didn't manage to kill any of them, but I destroyed their stockpile of moldy and stinking food bits when I washed the dishes, so there's nothing worth returning for. I posted the Raid can on the window sill as a wicked reminder to any and all flies that my kitchen sink is an unfriendly environment for fruit flies.

What can this coming week bring that could possibly beat last week? Can't wait to see...

Feb 19, 2010

On Pronunciation, or...a Torty-un-Tord

Today's the first day in ten that it hasn't been 100 degrees in the shade, so to celebrate, I'm posting...

I've recently been asked to teach a pronunciation course. To prepare for this, I've been attending some workshops with a very fine teacher of pronunciation here at the institute. We teach American English here, and in examining the way words in English are pronounced, I find myself turning words and their pronunciation over in my mind...over and over. I disagree with some of the ways she says words are pronounced, a very small point really, because English pronunciation in the US is so influenced by the region and prevalent cultural group of the local area. She says that A, as in RAN is pronounced with almost 2 syllables, like RAY-AN, where as I (being from the High Plains area) say it with just one syllable, as A. Just AAAA. No AY-A. Just AAA. And the -ing in bring, something, thing, wing, and ring...I pronounce that almost like EEEENG, long E and NG. She says it's pronounced with a very short i, similar to THIS, IN, LIFT. She learned her pronunciation in the Deep South, and I grew up in Colorado. With all this regional difference, I wonder if the students will be confused.

Along with that, as I think about pronunciation, I have in my mind the story that my parents used to tell us when we were all kids. How it kept coming up, I can't remember, but we heard it numerous times. We always laughed uproariously each and every time we heard it...here it is, in a nutshell:

When my parents, Tommy and Phyllis, were in school, they knew a little boy named Johnny, whose last name escapes me now. When he was little, Johnny mispronounced his words, never learning to say his "K", "G", "F", or any other sound that required him to move his tongue from the ridge behind his teeth. So he used the "T" and "D" sound a lot when he spoke, calling my mom "Tyllis" instead of Phyllis. He never had the opportunity to go to speech therapy, but he could make himself understood and besides - he was so darn cute when he was in elementary school, so Johnny never learned the correct way to pronounce most of his words.

Time passed, and everyone grew up and tried to be cool, even little Johnny Whatsisname (gads, I wish I could remember his name!). The girls were wearing their hair in tall bouffant 'dos and wearing red lipstick and black mascara, and the boys were rolling cigarette boxes in their t-shirt sleeves and rolling their pant legs up so their white socks would show. Johnny's parents got him a 1941 Ford coupe to drive around, so cool. So very cool...until he opened his mouth.

Johnny never did learn to pronounce any sounds that required him to use different points of articulation in his mouth, aside from his old stand-by, the ridge behind his teeth. He wanted to be cool though, and boasted about his "Torty-un-Tord" (Forty-one Ford.) Everyone, even my mom, thought he was funny. Plus, he had the hots for my mom. So one day, he pulled up beside her with the '41 Ford and offered her and her friends a ride in his car. They all piled in, with my mom in the front seat, my dad as one of the pals in the back. Johnny leaned over to my mom and put his arm around her shoulders, puckered up, and (being the suave, smooth-talker that he was) said, "Div us a tiss, Tyllis!" While the pals in the backseat laughed so hard they couldn't sit up and gasped for breath, my mom gave him a look that said "Drop dead, jerk", exited the car and ran, mortified. You know the look I'm talking about.

Funny how after these more than 60 years, old Johnny is still remembered, but not as a cute little kid with a speech impediment, nor as a cool teenager in a hot car. We all remember him as either the moron, or the poor unfortunate, who never learned to pronounce his words correctly.

Feb 7, 2010

Lion Brand's Knitted Menagerie

You've heard of "The Glass Menagerie", right? Well...

Lion Brand made a wonderful display of large knitted and crocheted animals at the Craft and Hobby Association convention in Anaheim, California last week. Pictures of some of them can be seen here. They even had knitted plants!

I can't imagine the amount of work that went into this project, but I love the results, especially the peacock.

Feb 1, 2010

Safe - For the Moment

I have a confession to make...

When I was a child, a monster hid under the bed, only on MY side of the bed. My older sister may have had her own monster on her side, but I can't be sure. She never spoke of it. I don't know if it is common knowledge, but monsters often live under the beds of children. As I grew up, the monster stayed, but made itself less obvious, probably because of the increased activities of 4 adolescent girls. Still, at night, I had to stand back from the side of the bed and LEAP, from a distance of about 3 feet, into bed to keep the monster from grabbing me by the feet and dragging me under there so he could feast on little kid meat. And of course, COVERS were the only thing that actually kept me safe through the night. I was so thankful that I had my magic covers to stand between me and certain death at the hands of the monster under the bed. Without covers, it could have reached up and snatched me away in my dreams.

When I grew up, I got married and moved away, escaping the monster for a few years. But eventually, the monster tracked me down and once again crawled under my bed. I didn't see it, but one evening after a particularly stressful day, I felt its presence and had to leap into bed again. Imagine my chagrine. Twenty-something years old, and I had to leap 3 feet into my bed. I lived with that monster under the bed until getting divorced several years later. I managed to give it the slip again when I moved out and moved around for a few months. I moved into my own house in Cheyenne, and still manged to elude the under-the-bed monster.


And then I moved to Peru and got married to O, confident that the monster under the bed would never, ever be able to follow me across North, Central, and South Americas. And, until last night, I was sure that the monster hadn't figured out where I was, and maybe had even forgotten about me.

...end of confession...

I didn't feel that monster's presence, but last night in the middle of the night, when Celeste crept under the bed to her usual cool summertime sleeping spot, a struggle ensued with what I could only conclude was indeed the monster. She must have caught the monster unaware, and was about to catch him off-guard. For a few intense moments, there was a short battle that included some little barks and growls, and whimpers, some kicking, and then Celeste launched her most lethal attack yet - THE DEADLY GREEN GAS. There was a final kick to the mattress and the bed frame, a vicious growl, and then a soft sigh. Mercifully, a breeze came through the window and carried the remnants of the gas out...or maybe it was the monster, finally vanquished, that created the breeze when it leaped out the bedroom window to escape the deadly fumes.

A short time later, Celeste emerged from under the bed, rumpled and bearing a few dust bunnies (a sure sign that the monster had been there) on her coat, and crawled up onto the foot of the bed to sleep the deep sleep of a triumphant warrior. Luckily, she hadn't been suffocated by her own gas attack, which is always a danger to the novice monster hunter. Mission accomplished. The monster under the bed is gone - until next time.